Friday, August 31, 2012

Biking - Mohawk River Loop

This morning, friend Roy and I got out for a nice ride on a day that promised to turn pretty hot later on.  We chose the 27-mile Mohawk River loop, but since we started at Roy's house, that added about another 3 miles for a total of 30.

This is a popular ride, and we saw several others out early with the same idea of beating the heat.  It was a cool and pleasant morning, and a nice time to catch up with Roy after several months of both doing other things.  As it turned out, we were home in time for lunch after a relaxed conversational ride.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Biking - Rolling along up in the hills

Yesterday, a couple of friends and I did one of our favorite rides.  It starts with the 7-mile climb up to Mariaville, and ends with a flat stretch along the Mohawk Valley back to the cars.  In between, the scenic rolling farmland of western Schenectady and eastern Montgomery counties provided great views of the Schoharie Valley and the distant Adirondacks to the north.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Disc golf - Schenectady Central Park

With rain forecast for the afternoon, I took advantage of a pleasant morning for a couple of rounds of disc golf in Central Park.  The first round was a fairly average 30-34-64, but the second time I played the front nine, I wound up with a 26, 2 under par and my best ever.  Unfortunately, the trees took revenge on the back nine (+6), and I finished with a respectable 26-35-61.  It was a nice morning in the park, with lots of walkers, dog walkers, and generally friendly people.  It's a nice place for a 2-mile walk, even if the disc golf sometimes messes it up.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Biking - A short test ride

Over a week ago, I discovered that the rear rim on my bike was cracked in several places.  After some great service by Bill Lewis at Adirondack Bicycle, I now have a new rim attached to my existing hub, and all is well again.  A few adjustments were necessary, especially to the rear brakes, and I wanted to get out for a short ride to see what still needed tweaking.

I was thinking about an easy 30 miles when I got up this morning, but those plans changed once I got on the bike.  I didn't really feel like doing 30 miles, having been off the bike for over a week, and the chattering loudly squeaking rear brakes gave me a great excuse to cut it short at 16.  Once at home, after toeing the pads in more severely and readjusting everything, they're much better now, and will no longer serve as an excuse.  I'll do a longer ride next time.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Canoeing - Return to Sand Lake

Yesterday, Holly and I paid a return visit to Sand Lake, near Piseco.  This lake is completely surrounded by state land, and we usually don't see another soul when we're canoeing here.  It's about a 0.5 mile carry along a sometimes muddy path from the Powley-Piseco Road, but this trip it was much drier than usual and only took us about 10 minutes.

The usual pair of loons was present, with the male being very vocal despite our keeping a respectable distance.  A juvenile that Holly saw here during the Adirondack Loon Census last month was no longer around, lost (we presume) to either illness or predation.

After paddling around the lake, we made our usual stop at "The Rock", where Holly went in for a brief swim.  Ice cream at Udderly Delicious in Gloversville capped off another beautiful day outside.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hiking - Moreau Lake State Park

Today was another beautiful day, and with my good bike in the shop, I decided to get in a somewhat longer and tougher hike than earlier this week, and something with a view.  After much deliberating and gnashing of teeth, I settled on Moreau Lake State Park, south of Glens Falls.  There's an extensive trail system there atop the Palmertown Range (map at link), accessible either from the main park itself or from Spier Falls Road along the Hudson River.  I took the cheap option, and parked below the Spier Falls Dam, ready for the steep uphill climb to the ridge.

It was indeed a steep climb up the orange Cottage Park Trail, and once up on the "plateau", there wasn't a flat stretch of trail to be found.  I did a clockwise loop around the Cottage Park, Eastern Ridge, and White Birch trails, ending on the Western Ridge trail with all of its views of the Hudson River far below.

The Spier Falls Dam on the Hudson River
A shady lunch spot.  I could see the old IP smokestack in Corinth from here.
The Hudson River, flowing downstream and northward here, heading toward Glens Falls.  This was my favorite view of the day.
Another view of the dam and former falls
The descent back to the car was equally steep and difficult, and I was glad to be done for the day.  My feet and legs were feeling it.  All told, I'd covered 7.6 miles, and climbed over 2,500 feet of total ascent, not bad for only an hour from home.   I hadn't done much hiking since early spring, and it certainly uses different muscles than biking.  A couple of big hikes coming up in early September, so it was good to get this one under my belt.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Disc golf - An erratic day in Central Park

On a pleasant morning, with the overgrown lawn still wet with dew, I decided to sneak in a couple of rounds of disc golf, and then come back to mow the lawn before the rain forecast for later in the day.  I hadn't played in a couple of weeks, and it showed on the course.  I never knew exactly where my tee shot would wind up, and I was forever having to scramble for pars from wooded thickets, poison ivy patches, and muddy streambanks.  Par wasn't always possible, and a couple of disastrous holes had me flirting with 70 in the second round, a number I haven't seen in months.  I finally settled down and finished that round strong, winding up with 65 and 67 for the day, just a bit worse than average.  At times, it felt a lot worse, but it was a nice day for a stroll in the park nevertheless.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hiking - A short walk in the Plotterkill Preserve

After a week of foot problems that have made walking uncomfortable or even painful, I finally got off my butt today and got out for a short hike/walk.  This was more of a test than a real outing, but I wanted a rough surface and not a sidewalk, so I headed to the Plotterkill Preserve and one of my favorite local short walks.

A new trailhead on Lower Gregg Road provides excellent access to the lower part of the Plotterkill Gorge, and also avoids the weekend hordes at the more popular upper trailheads.  After a short walk in to a junction with the North Rim Trail, I soon descended to the Plotterkill Creek at the bottom of the gorge.  With little water to prevent me, I walked in the streambed to another intersecting trail a little further upstream, passing over many small almost dry waterfalls along the way.  That trail returned me to the North Rim Trail, and then back to the car the way I'd come.  It's slightly less than a 2-mile loop, and is really only possible with relatively low water, which there was today.

My foot felt fine, and I had no problems.  It was good to get out, and even better to know that (hopefully) I seem to be almost back to "normal", whatever that is.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Canoeing - Exploring the Kunjamuk

Today, Holly and I went canoeing with friends Dave and Theresa.  We decided on the Kunjamuk River near Speculator, a winding serene and calm couple of miles each way.  The put-in is on Kunjamuk Bay, at a dirt pull-off from NY-30 south of the village of Speculator.  The way the road bends, it's actually northeast of town as the crow flies.

Speculator and Oak Mountain Ski Center at left.  Our route in red.
We paddled upstream against a gentle current, winding around bend after bend, and passing through several breached beaver dams.  Eventually, we reached a slightly higher one that was a little tricky to cross, and we felt like we'd gone far enough anyway.

Dave and Theresa below the final dam.  Should we or shouldn't we?
So we headed back downstream to a nice lunch spot we'd seen earlier and had a leisurely bite to eat before the rest of the trip back to the car.  Ice cream on the way home topped off the day, as always.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Biking - SWC Thursday night ride

Back in the saddle for the first time since the Ididaride.  As I was putting air in my tires at home before leaving for this ride, I noticed this:

My rear rim was cracked.  I had no idea how long these cracks had been there, but now that I'd seen them, I wouldn't be riding on this wheel again.  At least not after tonight.  I considered not riding at all tonight, but figured that a relatively short and flat ride on smooth pavement would be safe enough just this once.  So I did a 14-mile loop from Scotia to Charlton and back, avoiding potholes, and got back early to the start for the usual beer and pizza.

Kinda  scary to think I might have been bombing the hills on the Ididaride at nearly 40mph with this wheel in this condition.  Bill Lewis at Adirondack Bicycle in Scotia is working on coming up with a replacement 36-spoke wheel.  In the meantime, I'll be riding the old Gitane 10-speed if I'm riding at all.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Biking - ADK Ididntride

Well, actually I did.  But I didn't finish.

The ADK Ididaride is a 75-mile loop through the central Adirondacks, with somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 feet of total elevation gain (aka climbing), depending on your information source.  In any case, it's a tough very hilly ride.

I did this ride for the first time last year, and had issues with leg cramps, but did manage to limp gingerly to the end.  This year was much the same as last, so I won't go into most of the preliminary details.  Just north of Lewey Lake, after about 48 miles and 3,500 feet of climbing, the cramps started again.  I started walking some of the hills, and by the time I reached Indian Lake at 58 miles, I decided to pack it in.  There are several long climbs beyond Indian Lake that I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to do, so it seemed like the right choice.  I've had a few instances since last year's ride where my quads painfully locked up solid while on the bike, and I wasn't anxious for another repeat of that experience.  I caught a ride back to North Creek with friends, had a couple of beers and some food, and headed home.

The cramp mystery continues, dating back to 2006, with a trouble-free 2010 TransAm thrown in for additional puzzlement.  I thought I had this solved, and a problem-free hot, humid week at the hilly Bon Ton Roulet reinforced that feeling.  Yesterday, I forced fluids and electrolytes at a rate I've never done before, but still ran into the same problems.  Not sure where to go next with this, but won't be doing any more big rides like this until I have a better idea what's going on.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Biking - SWC Thursday night beer/pizza ride

Last night was the weekly Schenectady Wintersports Club bike ride, this time in Clifton Park.  I continued my plan of taking it easy leading up to Sunday's Ididaride, hoping to be well-rested for that event.  I rode an old mountain bike, and did the shorter 10.5-mile loop at a relaxed pace, just to keep the legs loose.  I didn't want to get into the usual hammerfest that the longer ride often becomes.

No more riding before Sunday, and the weather would discourage it anyway.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Canoeing - Mason Lake

Yesterday, Holly and I loaded up the canoe and headed for Mason Lake, along NY-30 between Speculator and Indian Lake.  We'd been here once or twice before, and despite its proximity to the road, found it a pleasant place to paddle.

The put-in is along the road to Perkins Clearing, which leaves NY-30 just beyond the picnic pull-off.  There are several free primitive campsites along the lake on this road, and just beyond them, the road meets the lake's outlet, with an easy launch right at roadside.  These southern fingers of the lake are far from the highway and felt quiet and serene.

Heading up the outlet to the main part of the lake
Once out into the main body of the lake, there was some occasional passing traffic noise from NY-30, and the picnic pull-off was visible in the distance, but it was pleasant paddling nonetheless.  Off in the distance, we saw two loons, an adult and a grey-colored juvenile.  And then, right in front of the boat, up popped Papa Loon, loudly warning us away from his family in the distance.  We were still pretty far away from them, but he made it very clear that this entire lake was his territory.

Papa Loon

After circling the lake, we pulled up to a small island near the outlet for lunch, and for Holly, a swim.  I'm not big into swimming, but she'll get in the water almost anywhere.  She circled the island while I watched Papa Loon still hovering and keeping an eye on us.

Our island lunch spot.  Snowy Mountain is in the distance at upper left, the NY-30 picnic pull-off at upper right, and Papa Loon quietly watching our every move.

After lunch, we paddled down the outlet as far as we could go, disturbing a family of ducks along the way.  After loading up the car, we headed home, stopping, as always, for ice cream to top off the day.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Disc golf - Schenectady Central Park

After two days of biking, I felt like taking a rest day today.  In fact, I may be taking rest days for the rest of the week.  Feeling a little run down, so will rest up from now until the Ididaride on Sunday.

Disc golf isn't very taxing at all, so I got out today for the usual two morning rounds, throwing a 61 (+4) and a 59 (+2), both very good for my average.  Spent the rest of the day reading, napping, watching the Tour of Utah online, and helping Holly out with some things around her house.  Early to bed, and then some relaxed canoeing tomorrow.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Biking - Champlain Canal, Glens Falls Feeder Canal, and Warren County Bikeway

Today was going to be the day I did a big ride, something like 50 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing.  When I woke up this morning, that really didn't have any appeal at all.  So, to avoid complete lethargy, I settled on a more pleasing alternative - the trails listed above in the subject, which would take me from Fort Edward to Lake George.  I do this trip about once a year just for a change of pace, and today I seemed to need a change of pace.

I started out along the old Champlain Canal in Fort Edward.  I'd biked part of this before, to get access to the Feeder Canal.  But today I explored a mile-long section I'd never biked before, and it was really nice.  It brought back memories of biking the C&O Canal towpath in Maryland and Virginia.

The old Champlain Canal and towpath
This section led to a dead end, so I returned the way I'd come and headed toward the Feeder Canal.  Along the way, I came to The Combine, a group of 5 locks that now have continuously running waterfalls within them.  There was a short uphill here to climb to the level of the upstream section of the canal.

The Combine
Once on the towpath, the scenery could only be called "bucolic".  This was really pleasant riding, and just the change of pace I needed.

Along the Feeder Canal
But alas, the Feeder Canal Trail came to an end, and dumped me off on city streets before picking up the Warren County Bikeway.  This mostly off-road paved path crosses many streets before finally beginning its descent into Lake George.  The amazing thing is that the drivers here almost ALWAYS stop and allow bikers to cross at these intersections.  I've never seen this kind of courtesy anywhere before, at least not to this level.

Arriving in Lake George near the so-called "Million-dollar Beach", I headed into town to try to find some lunch, with limited cash on hand.  I managed 2 slices of pizza and a bottle of lemonade for about $10.00, obviously paying summer prices.  I sat by the lake for a while enjoying the scenery, and the lake that defines summer around here.

Parasailing and water skiing on Lake George
The climb back out of Lake George seemed like nothing and was over in a flash, and the whole ride back seemed shorter, as is often the case.  All told, I'd done about 37 miles on the first nice (comfortable, non-muggy) day we've had in what seems like weeks.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Biking - An easy 30 before the storms

It was going to be another hot day, but I needed to get off my butt and get outside.  With the ADK Ididaride coming up on Sunday the 12th, I can't afford to get lazy.   I decided that even easy miles were better than none, especially given the humid conditions, so went to my current "go-to" ride for an easy 30 miles.  I used to ride up and down the Mohawk River from SCCC to Amsterdam and back for an easy 30, but this one is from my door, and is more interesting and rolling.  The climbs are short and moderate, and there are no long extended ups and downs, with total climbing of just under 1,000 feet.

I got going before 8am, and finished just before 10am, before the real heat of the day arrived, and it felt good to get out.  Biking creates its own breeze, but there was also a pretty good natural breeze blowing as well.  With this loop, I change direction so much that a headwind was never an issue for very long, another difference from that other out-and-back river loop.

Hoping to get in some more longer rides this week, and waiting to see what Sunday's weather brings.  As far as I'm concerned, that will only be a fair weather ride for me.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Biking - One day, two rides

Last week while I was in the Finger Lakes, I got an email from Long Island friend Phil, who would be in the area this week and was looking to get out for a ride.  So we settled on Thursday, and I came up with a 30ish-mile route around Saratoga Lake and up in the hills to its east.  We started at the SPAC parking lot a little after 9am to be finished before the afternoon heat, cut through the park, and were on our way.  The roads to the east of the lake are rural and lightly trafficked, and made for pleasant riding.  Dropping down to the lake and heading clockwise on NY-9P, there was more traffic, but nice scenery along the shore.  Some unexpected road paving caught us off guard where we planned to cross to the west of US-9, so we improvised a route back to SPAC along the east side before crossing back through the park to the cars.  Lunch at Smokey Joe's BBQ in Ballston Spa finished off the morning.

After a cool quiet afternoon inside, it was time for the SWC Thursday night ride, this time in Clifton Park.  Since I'd already done 27+ miles, I chose the 14.7-mile option rather than the longer 23, and pushed the hills a little harder than I might have otherwise, given the short distance.  The usual beer and pizza feast topped off the evening and the day.